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Manchester Urban Institute

Visiting Professor Bruno Latour, August-September 2017

24 August 2017

The Manchester Urban Institute is happy to welcome Professor Bruno Latour as a Simon and Hallsworth Visiting Professor 2017/18

Photo of Bruno Latour

Professor Latour is hosted by Professor Albena Yaneva, head of the Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARG) at MUI. As a disciple of Bruno Latour, Professor Yaneva has collaborated with him for the past 16 years, co-authored a book chapter, and worked closely with him on a number of projects including the EU-funded projects MACOSPOL and FORCCAST.

Professor Latour has participated in a long-term collaboration with Manchester. He delivered the inaugural lecture at the launch of the Manchester Architecture Research Centre in 2007 (renamed Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARG) in 2016/17 as a part of the Manchester Urban Institute).

Bruno Latour is one of the leading figures in contemporary philosophical and social scientific thought. He established his reputation as one of the most influential figures in science and technology studies, but the significance of his work reaches out to a much broader audience, where he is recognised as one of the most original thinkers in contemporary continental philosophy and the humanities and arts in general. In addition to work in philosophy, history, sociology and anthropology of science, he has collaborated in many studies in science policy and research management.

His reputation was established with his ground-breaking 1979 co-authored book (with Steve Woolgar) ‘Laboratory Life: the construction of scientific facts’ (Princeton University Press) which was followed in ‘1984 with Les Microbes: guerre et paix, suivi de Irréductions’ (translated as ‘The Pasteurization of France’(Harvard University Press)) and ‘Science in Action’ (1986, Harvard University Press). He has also published a field study on an automatic subway system, ‘Aramis or the love of technology’, and an essay on symmetric anthropology: ‘We have never been modern’ (both with Harvard and now translated in 22 languages). With the same publisher, he also published a series of essays, ‘Pandora's Hope: Essays in the Reality of Science Studies’. In recent years the philosophical ambitions and significance of his work have been ‘confessed’ in the English translation of his work ‘An Inquiry into Modes of Existence’ (2013, Harvard University Press) and with the publication of ‘Reset Modernity’ (MIT Press, 2016).  

The Manchester Urban Institute is honoured to host Bruno Latour, a recipient of many awards including the Holberg Memorial Prize in 2013, which is the closest equivalent to the Nobel Prize for humanities and social science, granted annually to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the arts, humanities, social sciences, law or theology. The prize committee stated that: "Bruno Latour has undertaken an ambitious analysis and reinterpretation of modernity, and has challenged fundamental concepts such as the distinction between modern and pre-modern, nature and society, human and non-human." The committee defined the impact of Latour's work as “international and far beyond studies of the history of science, art history, history, philosophy, anthropology, geography, theology, literature and law".

In 2013 Latour presented the prestigious Gifford Series of Lectures in Natural Theology at the University of Edinburgh and the Tanner lectures at Yale University in 2014. Cornell University have recently honoured his work with a six-year honourary ‘Professor at large’ appointment and he was made Albertus Magnus professor at the University of Cologne in June 2015. He was awarded the Prix de l’Académie Catholique de France in 2016 and in the same year was made Doctor Honoris Causa, at the University of Edinburgh.

EVENTS

Bruno Latour will be giving a public lecture at 9.30am on 1 September 2017 in Renold Building, room C16. Introduced by University President Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, Latour will address the question of whether our conception and practice of the modern European ‘body politic’ needs a ‘new body’ when confronted with the challenges posed by our new climatic regime.

Students from MUI will have the opportunity to participate in a master class with Professor Latour in the first week of September. Some students from across the Faculty (Anthropology and Business Studies) will also have the opportunity to join the master class. The master class will provide an introduction to recent developments in Actor-Network Theory (ANT) with a focus on the most recent projects of Bruno Latour (AIME project and RESET modernity). The participants in the masterclass will be invited to reflect analytically and visually on the relevance and limits of ANT as a methodology for their disciplines: architecture and urban studies, anthropology and organisation studies. We are particularly interested in the challenges the recent work of Profesor Latour poses to writing and descriptive practices that may be associated with all manner of material enactments – including but not restricted to mapping, ethnography, architecture, organisational charts, digital data, and web-based visualisation software. For enquiries, please contact Professor Albena Yaneva: albena.yaneva@manchester.ac.uk.

A welcome reception with MUI staff will be held on 5 September at 5pm on the first floor mezzanine in Humanities Bridgeford Street Building.

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